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Charlie Rose

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Washington 11, Us 8, Austin 5, America 4, John Mcquillen 3, Manchin 3, Ross Perot 2, Jim 2, Jon Meacham 2, Hamilton 2, Cooper 2, Mary Shelly 2, Michael Beschloss 2, Joe Manchin 2, Charlie 2, Obama 2, Jim Cooper 2, Ronald Reagan 2, David Brooks 2, Alexander 2,
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  PBS    Charlie Rose  

    July 8, 2014
    12:00 - 1:01am PDT  

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>> charlie: welcome to the program. i'm jon meacham sitting in for charlie rose. we begin this evening with a discussion about politics is representative jim cooper and senator joe manchin. >> such acrimony. we're behaving like a parliament. my colleagues 99% of time with their party political. we sometimes break with our party. no party has a monopoly on wisdom. i'm a proud democrat. we want to make sure we're doing the right thing for the country. >> we continue with david brooks of the, no times and historian michael beschloss. >> if you have a sense of your own rightness and you think politics is generally a competition between half truths, you're going to need the other people on the other side and
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value the similar later of tastes. you may disagree with the republican or democrat but you're still basically american and share the same culture and you know your side is half wrong. when you hae mentality of i'm half wrong and he's probably half right, it will be easier to come to an agreement. but if you have an eggotisticle at tiew 'tude of pim 100% right and he's 100% wrong, then it's hard to come to an agreement and i think we've had a failure of modesty about our own rightness and wrongness. >> we conclude with the "marks of genius" at the morgan library with assistant curator john mcquillen. >> i think it changes as we pass through the centuries from if an a chenet roman idea of genius being a sort of guardian spirit that everyone had, every man had his genius, every woman had her
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juno, to something more selective. 18th century authors, alexander pope, the great romantic poets thought genius was something only a select few could ever hope to cleave and whether given by nature or god, but it was a very selective thing that set them apart. >> politics in america and genius at the morgan library when we continue. >> there's a saying around here: you stand behind what you say. around here, we don't make excuses, we make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up and make it right. some people think the kind of accountability that thrives on so many streets in this country
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has gone missing in the places where it's needed most. but i know you'll still find it, when you know where to look. >> and by bloomberg. a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> jon: good evening. i'm jon meacham filling in for charlie rose who is on assignment. we begin the program with a conversation about politics, in particular why a polarized washington seems incapable of action on issues ranging from immigration to entitlements. with fewer than 1,000 days left in office, president obama must govern with an approval rating around 40%. by comparison, at this point in
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their second terms, ronald reagan was at 63%, bill clinton at 62. obama's current standing is roughly akin to that of george w. bush who stood at 39%. congress is even worse. only 7% of americans say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the house and senate. an unpopular president, a desperately unpopular congress. what's driving the disspiritting public discontent with washington? joining me two incumbent lawmakers candid, joe manchin and jim cooper. senator, you have been quoted saying that your worst day as governor is better than your best day as a senator. why is that? >> jon, i think if you base id on accomplishments, getting
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something done, and i think you and i spoke about this before, i was able to basically get up every morning excited as governor, knowing that i could change somebody's life and make it better for them in west virginia. my beautiful state that i love so much. and ei could go to bed at night fulfilled i had done something productive. i don't get that same feeling now. but i'm very hopeful and it is still the place if you're going to change the world, being in congress and washington, d.c. is the place to do it, we've just got to get our act together and act like americans and quit worrying about being democrats and republicans. >> jon: congressman, you have served in congress under five administrations from 1982 with a little break in there. which was the most effective and what was it about that era that was missing now? >> well, there's never a golden age, john, but there might have been a bronze age. the tip o'neal era, in retrospect, was a pretty
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harmonious time because tip could sit down with president ronald reagan and get things done after hours. that's almost no longer true today there's such acrimony, and we're behaving more like parliament than congress because my colleagues 999% of the time with their political party affiliation. joe and i sometimes break from our party. no party has monopoly on wisdom. our main job is to do the right thing pore the country. >> jon: what is it, simply the personalities that you don't have a speaker or a president, or what are the other factors? >> personalities are part of it, but also some larger forces. we've gotten so darned good at gerrymandering with computers that these computers are preset to send people to washington and once they get there they don't know anybody because they don't live there and after the last vote we fly back home. the internet changed politics
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tremendously. used to be when we had three news channels, we had a common set of facts to operate on. whether you're watching fox or msnbc, you can see a different picture of america today. >> what's never changed is human nature and common sense and that's what you're miss so much is the human contact, human interactions. common sense. if i can go home to west virginia and explain why i'm supporting something or why i'm looking at something differently, if i can explain it, i can vote for it, if it makes sense. if it doesn't, i can't. i don't care whether it's a hard party line vote they want me to take, whether it be democrat or whatever it may be, and the thing that i've said is basically we're an environment, jim and riin an environment now -- and jim can basically give you the experience of history here being through five administrations, i've only been
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here through one administration, i don't know what five would have done to me, but, anyway, john, with that being said, i made a pledge dr. i have made a -- i have made a pledge to myself and every west virginian thatly not campaign against a setting colleague. if you expect me to go out and beat up my colleagues who are republicans and who are running to go down in their states and get involved in their races, i won't do it. >> jon: senator, you came to national prominence after the tragedy in newtown in connecticut as a democrats from west virginia and someone who in a campaign ad who shot the cap and trade bill, coming out for some common sense gun legislation. can you tell us what that experience taught you for good or for ill about what's happening? >> well, i pretty much knew, you
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know -- all these personal issues, i come from a gun culture. i'm a lifetime member of the nra, proud member. i shoot and love to go hunting and shooting and have friends i've done that with all my life, and with that i always felt common sense would prevail, and if i wanted to be treated as a law-abiding gun own, then just because you don't come from a gun culture, don't look at me as i've committed a crime because i own a gun. maybe it's a type of gun you don't want me to own. but i could say why do you have a car with 140 on the speedometer when the speed is only 70? you have the right to buy what you want in america as long as you abide by the laws. that's how i want to be looked upon as a law abiding gun owner. with that i thought game responsibility. we never put restrictions on personal traction actions. i want to sell or give jimmy gun, i can do it, don't need a
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background check. law abiding person won't sell to a stranger or unstable person or even irresponsible family member. with all that, if i don't know you ant go to a commercial transaction such as a gun show or on the internet exchanging and trading guns that at least i ought to have a background check or a background check on you so i know who i'm selling it to? to me that made sense. if i want to be treated as a law-abiding gun owner with all the right and the second amendment, then i should be at least showing common sense about getting a background check when i don't know somebody. >> jon: well, you did this in a bipartisan way and it didn't work. >> well, when you say it didn't work, you know, we had almost i think 60 votes on cloture. then they said, oh, my goodness, this will pass. then all the wheels started turning and people got scared
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and threatened and this and that. it takes an awful lot of work. i have been asked the question, do you wish you hadn't done it? well, you know, if that's the case, why did you send me here? why don't you just send somebody here that basically will do exactly what the path of least resistance would be and just go along to get along? i knew if i couldn't bring some expertise to a piece of legislation i knew an awful lot about, then what was my purpose? so it did take an awful lot of work and politically you take maybe a little bit of a hit, but i truly believe if you work hard enough, people will respond and get involved and penal are looking at me now -- do you know what the whole problem on that was, jon, on that? i said, did you read the bill? they said, no. we broke it down to one page. after they read it, they said, joe, we like your bell. i said, thank you. they said, we just don't trust government, that's why we're not for it.
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they didn't trust government stopping there. i said, guys, this is a constitutional amendment, it has to go back through process. i can assure you we won't do anything different than what the bill says. we just don't trust government. >> jon: that ring strew? oe was describing the sausage making process the legislature goes through. it's not pretty, just hope it tastes good when you're done. moving into the polarization, we're finding some people want pork, some want beef and they don't want to mix the two. so it's very difficult to get a compromise. joe was ideally suited to achieve a compromise on the gun issue. he tried hard. he didn't succeed because it's hard for anyone to beat the national rifle association. some issues are difficult to solve and takes times. but there is so much more the congress could be doing. we should be humiliated we're at 7% in the polls and should be doing everything possible to do better. joe and i coapt bill called no
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budgets, no pay, which would eliminate congressional pay if we didn't pass that for a budget. we passed it for one year. the republicans limited it to a year. now it's expired. so now there won't be budgets for the united states of america. there are new approaches, like incentive pay, penalty pay, also gamey fying it, so if we got to pick the committee members that might change the cal clues. to an outsider, this is all way complicated and sounds like roberts rules of order or something. but this is the system the founders gave us and in the fourth of july weeks we should be obligated to make it work. and when we have funerals like senator howard baker who is one of the giants of our time, to be sure a short giant, he knew how to get along and will go down in history as one of the greatest and today's leaders are not measuring up. if we followed the examples of
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the recent past, we could do better. joe's idea about not campaigning against colleagues would be helpful. you can't just have unilateral disarmment, they have to agree to the same thing. some people say when bill frist attacked tom daschle, that was one of the first times the senate got off rails and personally attacked each other, making comedy very hard. >> jon: when you talk to people in the white house about these issues, they bring up something jim mentioned a while ago which is a letle lack of a common audience and a common fact base in which you could have something like the fdr, the reagan going into the country, explaining things, even, god help us, ross perot, have a charge, a teachable moment, do you think that kind of presidential leadership is possible in this environment? >> i think so. don't you, jim, think people are hungry for that? >> they are hungry for it, but
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also we are at fault. we make the presidency almost an impossible job. even as an historian, there was never an easy time for an american president. thomas jefferson didn't have it easy. andrew jackson didn't have it easy. now we make it almost impossible because you're damned if you do or don't. if people could remember harry truman, he was vilified yet made some of the wisest foreign policy and domestic policy decisions in history and only in retrospect do we see his greatness. look today, it would be common sense to pass an infrastructure bill, but because of not wanting to raise any taxes, senator corker is the only republican i know of willing to break with orthodoxy. so it used to be common sense for congress to pass highway bills. we've really blown it for a long time. we haven't had a real highway bill for seven years. that's crippling for the country and the presidency, too, but it's not his fault.
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>> right. immigration is very important right now. it's reaching a level of humanitarian crisis in california, texas. what's the hope for congressional action in terms of addressing this with some dispatch? senator? >> in the senate, we passed a bipartisan immigration bill which basically said secure your borders first. those people who have been here and came here illegally will pay their fines, get in the back of the line and go through a process. there was no amnesty there whatsoever, and it's something that i think it was a good building block for us to work off of. we're just asking our friends on the house side, both the republicans and our democratic friends, to look at this. and let's bring this up, with what you see the influx now of these young people coming from all over south america. something has to be done.
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we've got to secure these borders. we've got to make sure that we're able to do it in a systematic way that's fair but also manageable, and right now it's not. and you can't do it without immigration reform, thinking you have 11-plus million people here who came here illegally and you're going to round them all up and throw them out, we can't even stop the ones coming here just recently and get them turned around to go back. we're having a hard time there. i think, jim, that was the 2008 law that was passed, and that's what henry and i are working on right now, seeing if we can eliminate and we peel that piece of legislation and -- repeal that piece of legislation and treat all the noncontiguous countries the same as mexico and canada and get them back to their home country within a 48-hour period. >> joe's exactly right,
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comprehensive immigration reform passed the senate and that's a miracle but the house of representatives won't even allow a vote. they are so afraid of alienating the ultraconservative base during primaries they aren't willing to consider it and even after the eric cantor defeat they're more paranoid. but i have a semifunctional senate and completely dysfunctional house, and if they were to allow a vote it would pass and be solved, but they won't allow a vote because it's internal republican politics. they're worried about the tea party wing and folks like mario arubio are having a hard time. >> i'm asking about senator manchin's potomac hospitality and whether you have been drinking with him on the potomac river. >> no (laughter) >> jon: senator, do you have a house boat is this.
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>> i live on the potomac. i couldn't come to investing in real estate in d.c. it wasn't many my dna. i said, i just can't do it. i told my wife, i'm going to buy a boat, then when things get crazier than now, i can float away and no one will notice the difference. the main thing, it's been a great thing for us to have an evening to get a few senators together, four, five, six, eight, even more at times, and i try to get a balance of democrats and republicans, and people from what you would think of one end of the spectrum to another. one night we had telemarket and ted cruz, a beautiful evening. i know tom and ted looked at me -- both my friends -- and before i knew it, you couldn't separate the two from conversation, and we don't get that type of opportunity here. so we have to make every minute count. >> jon: senator manchin, congressman cooper, thank you. >> thank you, jon.
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>> jon: appreciate it. we continue our conversation about politics and polarization with presidential historian michael beschloss who joins me from washington and in new york david brooks of the "new york times." welcome to you both. myel, wanted to start with you. we've just talked to senator manchin, congressman cooper. they're in the arena trying to make things work. how do you see this moment in historical comparison in terms of polarization? >> well, you know, jon, i think one way of looking at it is, if it were a perfect system, then the most polarized congress would be at the post polarized times of american history, like the run up to the civil war, perhaps in 1940 and 1941 when americans were struggling, whether we should go to war against hitler and the imperial japanese or not, and i hate to say it, but if you had to look at what was done in congress in those times compared to now, i
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think the congress of 2014 does not measure up very well. >> that's remarkable. so we were better off in -- was more productive legislature in the 1850s? >> well, they disagreed, but i think there was not such a habit of just disagreeing almost out of custom. >> the reflective partisanship is on the rise. >> sure, around there were not a lot of members of congress who were terrified that if they took a position that was not, you know, extreme enough that they would get primaried, which is a word that, thank god, was not used in the 1860s. >> sometimes what david does is party tricks is he sub jew gaits the word to primary. >> i gave him the word primarily. >> jon: do you agree? we go through cycles.
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you know, i think the 1860s, if you look at some of the campaigns against lincoln, pretty polarized. statistically the cycle started in the '70s and we should be pulling out of it if you look at rough historical patterns of 30 years. what prevents us from pulling out is strictly institutional. if you go to a dinner party in washington, on the left is academic, donor and think tanks so they have an infrastructure on the left. on the right, donors, thing tanks, academics, infrastructure on the right. if you go to dinner in the middle, it's lobbyists. there's just a void. if you're a politician and want to heado the middle, there's nobody there. if you deviate from the right or left, there's punishment, so we have an institutional problem.
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>> i agree with david. i think it is institutional, but i would say that through history, the way we pull out of a period like this in terms of the intense hostility wean the two parties in congress has been, god forbid, overwhelming foreign or economic or social crisis in the country that causes everyone to essentially say let's knock it off and you go back over the last 15 years, in the wake of 9/11, there was a little bit of an effort to pull together. same thing after the crash of 2008, very brief, but even those huge crises, not too much sign there's going to be a great potential for a change in washington at least in the next few years. >> one of the questions is polarization in washington or in the country. so i used to think it was mostly in washington. if you look at the latest research from pe pugh and other organizations, it looks like much more in the country than i
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thought it was. views are diverging, people in the middle are checking out. if you look at the promising young people at universities, they want to get something done, so they get away from politics or hitting politics at the local level. they're much less excited about politics at the national level, so the people who would defeat polarization are self-censoring themselves and getting away from washington and going to work in chattanooga or someplace like that. >> jon: you live in washington. if you were pulling apart the sociology, what do you think the causes are? >> it's built into the system as david was saying that it was not for most of american history. fake the house of representatives. if you were elected to the house and wanted to be leader, the way you would do it for most of american history is to prove you were able to make deals with i'm on the other side of the aisle. how do we think jerry ford or bob michael got to be leaders of their party in the house? not because they were
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ideological firebrands, it was the opposite. in the next 20 years, if you want to become leader of the house, the john boehners won't be around much longer, and perhaps the best advice to someone who wants to is be intense in ideological point of view, raise a lot of money, and that wasn't true for most of our history. >> three things changed institutionally. passing legislation has become much less important as michael says because much less is being passed. there's tremendous emphasis because of the media of being a tv performer rather than legislature, and sarah palin was the ultimate version of this, but i think ted cruz more interested in the body less interested in stands for future reference. second, donors tend to be more polarized than other people, so that's where the money is,
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observe right and left. finally, democracy. we've become much more open, less democratic, more republican. government should have some lack of trance parentsy, the same reason middle aged people should wear clothes, you don't want to see everything. responding to telegrams and e-mails makes people more responsive. it's multi-cause. all of the things lead to polarization. to me, the only way out is foreign crisis, an invasion from mars, quite likely, or leadership. people are sick of it. the members are sick of it. i think obama tried. if had more social oomph or
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hadn't come in at the time of crisis. >> jon: do you see something changes? >> i agree the way that david listed things might change and i think there is another one and that is money. right now, as long as money is essential to the political process, i don't think it will change, even if you have leaders as noble as well-intentioned as the ones david is talking about. for most of american history, there was not a need for enormous campaign funds mainly because there was not tv. and it is entirely possible if you imagine it that there could be a future not too long from now when tv is not the way that a political candidate, it's not cheap way he or she tries to get his or her message across. it may be other areas of the internet or other things that don't cost so much money. if that's the way, you don't have to raise all the campaign funds, money becomes less important and, therefore, you have fewer people who are
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elected in office and trying to be, sending out letters saying nancy pelosi or mitch mcconnell is satan because that's the way you raise money. >> or right now the money is on the exchange. it's possible to imagine a world in which people run money from the center, which doesn't have to be the mushy middle. it can be a combination of left and right ideas that create a balance. so you could actually get a leader who decides i'm tired of the koch brothers or the comparable people on the left dictating where the money is, i'm going to create centric institutions, and i'm seeing michael over my shoulder, and i'm talking to mayor bloomberg. >> or people like him. one of the amazing things to me in history is is there is an absolute opening for independent candidate to run for president. in 1992, ross perot was running ahead of bill clinton and george
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bush the elder. the amazing thing to me, given the kind of money people in this century have, it's not happened again. >> right now we're cruising toward the clinton and jeb bush race. i think both campaigns are weaker than they appear and the country is wanting change. you can see ted cruz and elizabeth warren type figure on the other and that creates an opening. you still have the house of representatives problem if a centrist is running. but i think both parties are moving toward the edges and there is a natural room in there for a weak party which is what this country needs. >> jon: michael, historically, is there an example where this kind of new center has been created? >> well, what the history of party realignment is that a party develops to fill the void
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that's been left by others. you know, david was talking about the wig party. that's how the republican party started in the mid 1850s, so you could see that again. but i think what we might see is something that again is different for most of american history and that is if there's a movement like this or a candidate, that person may not be the head of a party at all. >> jon: so we have the possibility, the technology exists, certainly the public discontent, congress has a 7% approval rating and most congressmen say we can't figure out who the 7% are. >> relatives and friends. >> jon: exactly, and on the payroll. but it takes, as we all know michael wrote a book called "presidential courage" which is about individual action, it takes a person to do this. outside of mayor bloomberg, the kind of names in the recent past that floated around, we talked about in the last 30 years, lee
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iacocca's name has been up and around, and others, but does someone come out of business or the acam my? where do they come from? >> the media. i think former "newsweek" editors. (laughter) >> david is excluding himself, i see. >> my bakes view is -- my basic view is people want to know is what your character and where did you establish it and did you establish it in an institution in which we have faith. and i doubt a business person really can do it. i think it would have to be, in general, people have faith in the military, and very few institutions. so it would have to be somebody comes out of the blue with some leadership and management skills. if you got a boring enough person, a business person who was exceptionally boring, because i think the model unked
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look for is, i'm not charismatic, i'm not going to yoi you hope and change or compassionate conservatism, i'm not bill clinton, i'm just a boring guy that will make it work. former governor mitch daniels from indiana would have been a good republican candidate because he is 5'6", low to the ground, built in touch with the people, but not super charismatic. he just managed to run things. and i think there would be an opening for that kind of candidate as opposed to an anti-polarizing one. >> jon: do you agree? i do. but you could say there is an opening for someone like this, then where are they? the thing that depresses me about this whole conversation, what we're saying is the best way to get out of this is for some miraculous person to come in and save us. and the founders would be horrified because their whole idea beginning with james
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madison was you don't allow the american public to rest on this, you make sure that there's a system that works so that you're not dependent on the usual moment of, you know, someone like this coming along. >> jon: it was an epitaph to the american bon bone bonapart e person like this on horse back. the character of the american people is the constitution. >> if the country itself is irreconcilably polarized, then in classic republican lower case r thinking, that is going to be reflected by the nature of the republicans. >> and i'm come around to that view which i was resistant to over the past ten years and many people argued it is in the country and not in washington, and i think i more or less accept that and i think it's a moral failing we share which is
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if you have a modest sense of your own rightness and you think politics is generally a competition between half truths, then you will need the other people on the other side and you will value the similar later of tastes. you may disagree with the republican or the democrat but you're basically still american and share the same culture and you know your side is half wrong. if you have that mentality of i'm half wrong he's probably half right, then it's goismght be easier to come to an agreement. but if you have an owingtisticle attitude that i'm 100% right and they're 100% wrong, with is i a moral failing, then it's very hard to come to an agreement, and i do think we've had that failure of modesty about your rightness and wrongness. i'm in the op-ed business and i have contributed as much as anybody to this moral failure but i think it built gradually and has been somewhat consuming. >> jon: one of our joint favorite writers george elliott talked about moving through the world of dim lights and tangled
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circumstance, which isn't a point that raises much money online. >> and i wanted to defend president obama on one thing. he said foreign policy is about hitting singles and doubles. sometimes that's what politics is, boring through crooked boards. we have such an heroic attitude that when it doesn't turn out heroically, we're disillusioned and think it's crap, but it's neither. it's just staying afloat and hitting a couple of singles and doubles. >> jon: michael, assess the validity of this statement, has richard hose steader's style in american politics gone main stream? >> no, i think he meant for that to refer to american history in one thread but i think one element is true and that is one point he was making was we live in a political system based on tolerance and based on, for
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instance, in congress, relationships between people who disagree, and one of the central elements in all of this is that what you'd want in a president, what you'd want in members of congress is not someone who says, gee, i agree with everyone, and let's suppress our differences, but what you want is someone with a degree of imagination to understand why someone on the other side might have a point of view even if you do not agree. classic example, you know, lyndon johnson and everett dirksen, fellow leaders of congress in the 1950s, disagreed about just about everything but they could get business done because l.b.j. and he could at least understand why an intelligent, moral human being could have the views each of them did. >> jon: just one moment in history crucial happened in early '61, j.f.k. gave a utopian inaugural speech, we can bear any burden, pay any price, cure
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any disease, farm the deserts. so let's march. three days before eisenhower gives his farewell speech, says poll things is competition between interests, and the key word in eisenhower speech is balance. so i'd say in the early '60s with this coming generation of leaders, we gave away the sense that politics is about balance and it's about solutions and energy and heroic utopianism. and once we leapt into that world which created the reagan revolution, the obama hope and change, we leapt into utopian politics which was bound to be frustrating and all capital letters. but if you keep it small letters like eisenhower meant, you're in a world where it's only politics, not crucial things in life -- family, faith and sports -- so you have a more
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modest sense and more flexible about it. >> jon: so the rise of the managerial culture, the best and the brightest, that is the attitude that gave us vietnam. >> well, people have the sense they could be transformed through politics, and a lot of us spend a lot of time thinking about politics, but if you're looking for salvation in politics, you're barking up the wrong tree. it's the loss in faith in a lot of things and the belief in faith of politics which gave us the russian evolution on a
larger scale but in the smaller scale the sense that, you know, the 2008 obama campaign had come along, and i'm as guilty as anybody about this, and you get caught up in the fervor of the thing and, when that fervor doesn't come through, you've got this emotional crash of disillusionments and i think we're living through that as well. >> jon: i'm sure michael will know exactly, but i think there was a scottish traveler in the 1820s who came to do a travel
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book in the francis trial of era. he said there was more interested in the apostle than the gospel and the personality was, already, then, too much focus on that. >> the irony is that's what the founders were terrified of because they were so worried about a president who was too powerful especially in making war. they spent an awful lot of time and attention to make sure to make sure that you didn't have a president who could get the country into wars on his own for all sorts of reasons just like the monarchs and dictators of europe they were trying to get away from. so, you know, again, one advantage of saying what the founders would think now is it's very hard ever to be proven wrong, but i think that is something that they would be very anxious about. >> except for hamilton. (laughter) as a sign of grace and love, i'll let you have the last word on hamilton. thank you, michael. thank you, david. >> thanks, jon.
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>> jon: we conclude this evening with a look at the morgan library's "marks of genius" exhibit. genius is one of the most fascinating and mysterious forces in human endeavor. the word deriving from latin verb to bring into being, create, produce, and from magna carta, to newton to a lock et of mary shelly, it explores the notion of genius as it evolved through the ages. features 60 rare books, manuscripts from oxford's library. joining me is john mcquillen assistant curator of the morgan library museum in new york city. welcome. >> thanks for having me on the show. >> jon: define-genius "for us. that's the tough one. that's what the exhibit tries to accomplish. i think it changes, as we have passed through centuries, from the ancient roman idea of genius
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being a sort of guardian spirit that everyone had, every man had his genius, every woman had her juno, to something that has become much more selective. 18th century authors alexander pope, the great romantic poets, thought genius was something only a very select few could ever hope to achieve and whether given by nature or god, it was a very selective thing that set them apart. >> jon: and did it require public expression -- that is, the distinction between pub acheland private genius, as it evolved, a very 18th century idea to present one'sself to the world in a certain way? >> yes. i think -- well, coming from a book museum in the book side of things, the publication of material is what then history will tell you makes you a genius
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or not, and history will then ultimately be the judge on -- no matter if you think you are or not, history will let you know and decide that for themselves. >> jon: let's sort with someone who did public books, william shakespeare. the first follow which is in the exhibition 1623. >> the first major publication of shakespeare's plays, a few little ones came out a few years before in small sort of pamphlet, small book size. this was the first major publication of any plays in the english language in a large, basically encyclopedia, large dictionary format. this is a major reference tome and it really creates plays as a part of the literary cannon.
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>> jon: who was the publisher. two of his former colleagues at the playhouse, after shaings spear's death, took it upon themselves to preserve his plays and worked at publishing them and, so, had to get the scripts of his plays that were known, some of the published editions already produced, and some of the actors together to recite from memory the plays they didn't have scripts for to then reconstitute things, which like prom owe and juliet -- romeo and juliet would have been lost had it not been for the first folio. we only know those because of the first folio. >> jon: not unlike the bible and how they were doing it. jane austin -- purely a point of personal privilege because she's my favorite novelist -- but you have the first edition of "pride
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and prejudice"? >> we do. it's a copyright library, so they are entitled to a copy of every work printed in the united kingdom. when austin was published, the bobbians had to go back and repurchase their works. we also have one of her rare manuscripts for work she never completed, an it's a manuscript in two sections, and the morgan owns part of the manuscript and the bodlian owns the rest of it. in the early 20th century, jp morgan, i think in 1924, if i'm not mistaken, was able to purchase part of the manuscript at auction and tried desperately with the austin heirs to get the
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rest of the work, and they would never sell it. the section that's now at the baudrlean went through hands and came to auction in s so in soth. the baudline was able to acquire it for themselves. between the two institutions, they shared the jane austin manuscript. there are only a couple of hers left, but really real gems of the exhibit to see jane austin's hand, her work in front of you. >> jon: and the idea she was sitting in that corner of the parsonage, writing, the family around. >> and the genius, they're writing, things flow magically
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from the pen and comes out perfectly on paper. the jane austin manuscripts, the shelly manuscripts, they work at it. they're moving words and phrases around, mary shelly's frankenstein's manuscript, you can see percy shelly's corrections, and some suggestions in between the lines. so it's interesting when you think of then, you know, the original author's work, you know, if it's originally what they intended or what came from the pen or how they change it or how someone else might change it. >> jon: which is one problem we have now, if there are geniuses at work. >> they're heavily edited. >> jon: and they're computerized. so it's going to be trickier to get -- to see the progress of a manuscript centuries hence. >> it is. there is some interesting work, a sort of hard drive archeology,
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if you will, and going back through time stamps and when the computer automatically saves drafts of things, you can go back, i believe it's -- i could be wrong but i think emory has john updike's computers and all his disks and materials, and you can go back to go through and see how he changed things. >> from arguably the most intelligent english novelist to the apocalypse, tell us about the engraving. >> the great german renaissance artist created this work. there are full-page web cuts of a story of apocalypse, the final book of the christian bible. a popular work throughout the middle ages and renaissance period, the work was originally published in 1498 in a latin and german version with his large scale wood cuts.
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there are about 15 in the work that illustrate the texts and here you're seeing the four horsemen of the apocalypse, one of the most if not the most famous of the work. albert took the art of the wood cut to heights that it still hasn't been surpassed. what were very rudimentary outline figures in earlier german and european wood cuts, he brings shading to and light and so much detail and space through just the carving of the wood. >> jon: and that was for, to go back to what we were talking about, popular expression. that was for reproduction? >> yeah, he intended these always to be mass produced. he was in charge of the printing and publication of this work. he has a couple of large series like this, one the life of the
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virgin that sort of goes through the life of the virgin mary, and then one just on the passion of christ. he had all three produced in 1511, and this edition that we have in the exhibition is the 1511 edition that comes with the entire life of the virgin series and the large passion in one giant tome. and i think it is, in my opinion, one of the first artist's books. there's little text with passion oand the life of the virgin. the text on the apop lips is on the back of the image. so you can't read the text and look at the image. you have to absorb one, then you can turn the page and see the story. so he really preferenced the images over the text. >> jon: there's an anglican theologian dubose which was
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once asked what do you make to have the book of revelation, and he replied, i have no idea. one of the few honest responses. >> it's a hard thing to wrap your head around sometimes. >> jon: handel. you have the original conducting score of the messiah. >> which he used at the dublin premiere in 1492 and the next dozen. he had the original score and this is the manuscript his copyist john smith produce ford him to use for the rehearsals, for the performance. and he goes through and you can see he changes not major changes but shortens some pieces, changes a little bit of the phrasing, changes some notes based on some performers available to him, musicians there, what he can and can't do
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at each venue. but as a working manuscript and the thing he changed and actually used repeatedly for performances, it's kind of just an amazing performance object. >> jon: which raises one question about genius that we both use the word in the past few minutes cannonnicle. there is an act of genius that's interpretive of a classic, and it's a whole different tributary coming off that initial river. >> and there are a lot of people, innumerable authors, musicians, artists that are fantastic, but, you know, history, whether they have an actual role to play in the future, have any emphasis on future generations and creation, i think that's where at least
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historically we start to say the genius comes in. we still, every year, go to umpteen productions of messiah. we're still reading jane austin, shakespeare. t therthere are a ton of peopleo are great but we don't, sadly, speak of anymore. >> jon: which is an act of curation. >> curation and preservation. >> jon: talamay, 1486. he took known authors, talking about geography and compiled them into a text. he, as far as we know, didn't make maps, those come later after his text. in 1486, these printed maps,
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they're about the fifth printed version after talamay after the gutenberg bible in '55, talamay was printed multiple times. and this work, you can see on the map, you be have the standard idea of what we have for the northern hemisphere now he figured out how to take the globe and put it in a two-dimensionalle map. he created climate zones, we call them. but sort of the tropic of cancer, the equator, and orients the northern hemisphere at the top of the globe and puts it up above but also thought the southern tip of africa connected to asia which made the indian ocean kind of like a large lake, and it was only the great arabic
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geographer who said, no, this is completely open water and africa and asia do not connect. >> jon: still, not too bad. no. and the amazing thing is that this book, within the library of ferdinand and isabella of spain, and produced in 1486, and in 1495, they gave it as president to the venetian ambassador. so it's kind of amazing to think that this book or another copy they might have had might have played a role in christopher columbus' journey across the ocean. >> this is a wonderful exhibition. john mcquillen, thank you. >> thank you very much. captioning sponsored by rose communications
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captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org 
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. this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathieson and susie garin. >> now what with dow 17,000 in the rear view mirror, one long-time market watcher says there is very little that can prevent stocks from going higher. summer stock sale. how and where bargain hunters are finding value nowow even at these lofty levels. missing the bulls eye, three things retirement savers into ed to knoww about those popular target funds that most don't. we have all that and more on a monday business report for monday, july 37th. >> good evening, everyone, welcome, thursday came the fireworks. today it was the fizzle that followed last week's sizzle. stocks sold off mildly

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